An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Met Office Pricing Policy

1. Introduction

1.1. The aim of the Met Office is to provide for the UK an effective, modern and efficient national meteorological service. With respect to pricing, its policy is to be fair and consistent such that it meets all legal and regulatory requirements whilst achieving the objective to 'maximise the return to the taxpayer' from its economic activities. This policy aims to achieve a fair balance between value for money for customers and a fair return to the Met Office.

1.2. This pricing policy provides explanation of our pricing policies along with high-level information on the applicable regulations, legislation and government guidelines which the Met Office takes into account when setting prices for its products. This ensures that the Met Office maintains a 'level playing field' between Met Office business activity and the private sector, both of which depend on data collected and processed by the Met Office.

1.3. Across all of its activities, the Met Office applies the following key principles:

  • Maximisation: The Met Office is committed to facilitating the widest possible access to, and dissemination of, the Met Office's outputs whenever this in the public interest, subject only to necessary prioritisation and capacity constraints.
  • Simplicity: The Met Office aims to achieve simplicity of processes, policies and licences so far as reasonably practicable.
  • Transparency: The Met Office presents its licence terms and conditions and charging information in a clear and transparent manner.
  • Fairness: All terms, including pricing, will be applied by the Met Office in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner to external customers.
  • Challenge: The Met Office takes all complaints seriously and has a robust complaints procedure.  
  • Innovation: The Met Office is continually exploring new methods and models to help re-users innovate.

2. The Met Office's Public Sector Information

2.1. The Met Office complies with the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (the Regulations). The Regulations aim to increase the economic benefit of 'public task' information through increasing its availability for exploitation outside the public sector.

2.2. It is the Met Office's public task to produce the outputs which are agreed with and paid for by the Public Weather Service Customer Group (PWSCG) from time to time.

2.3. The Met Office's Public Sector Information is made up of the agreed Public Weather Service outputs (as defined in the PWSCG/Met Office Customer Supplier Agreement and including baseline data). Other outputs, data, know-how and materials do not constitute the Met Office's Public Sector Information.

2.4. The Met Office makes available a range of data and various products, licensed for re-use in accordance with the Regulations. These can be found on the Met Office website at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk, the ECOMET website at www.ecomet.eu and by contacting the Met Office Weather Desk by email [email protected] or by telephone on +44 330 135 0000. Re-use means "the use by any person of information held by the Met Office for a purpose other than the initial purpose within the Met Office's public task for which the information was produced". In accordance with the Regulations, the pricing of the Met Office's Public Sector Information is clear and transparent.

2.5. The Met Office aims to price its Public Sector Information in a fair, consistent and non-discriminatory manner, in accordance with the Regulations. 

3. The Met Office's economic and non-economic activities

3.1. In its capacity as a Government Trading Fund and as an executive agency within BEIS, the Met Office undertakes both economic and non-economic activities.

3.2. The Met Office's economic activities constitute primarily competed business opportunities in which activities are delivered on a fully commercial basis into markets where the Met Office faces actual or potential competition from other providers. This includes any activity that is, or has been, open to competition, irrespective of the sources of payment or funding for that activity. ​​​​​​​

3.3. The Met Office's non-economic activities are those provided on behalf of the UK government as traditional state-led activity, or as the result of market failure. Non-economic activities are treated as forming part of the essential functions of the UK as a state, and so operate under official authority. As such, non-economic activities are often reserved for the Met Office by law.

3.4. Key examples of the Met Office's core non-economic activities include: ​​​​​​​

  • 3.4.1. The Public Weather Service: which manages the Met Office's operational capability (e.g. observing networks and supercomputing facilities) to produce a range of services (including basic weather forecasts and severe weather warnings) 'free at point of use' for the emergency services, the general public and all public and private sector re-users.
  • 3.4.2. Government Services: research, advice, support and operational services to government departments and public sector bodies to inform policy and help them to deliver their legislative responsibilities and public tasks (e.g. our programme of climate change research which is currently sponsored by Defra and DECC);​​​​​​​
  • 3.4.3. Defence: which manages direct services to MoD in support of the UK's defence commitments and services to other national and international defence customers.

4. ​​​​​​​Pricing principles for economic and non-economic activities

4.1. The Met Office is committed to setting prices that are fair, transparent and consistent, such that it meets all applicable legal and regulatory requirements, whilst achieving the objective of achieving a return to the taxpayer from profitable outlets for its economic activities.

4.2. When delivering non-economic activities, the Met Office's standard approach (consistent with HM Treasury Guidance) is to price such activity based upon full cost recovery plus a real charge for the cost of capital and may include an agreed efficiency target. Price calculations are open to scrutiny by customers who may request an external audit covering the calculation of profit margins and the allocation of costs. ​​​​​​​

4.3. In the context of delivering economic activities, the Met Office typically builds its pricing consistently based on: (a) delivery cost – i.e. the full and direct costs of product; (b) a reasonable apportionment of indirect and overhead costs; and (c) a reasonable return on investment, or markup. Where consistent with common practice in the relevant market, the Met Office may alternatively price economic activity on a value basis, at a price which is lawful, profitable and which the customer is willing to pay.

4.4. Standard prices and standard pricing structures are reviewed at least annually, at which time they may be updated and reissued. Longer-term contracts and related pricing are typically reviewed and updated on timescales agreed between Met Office and the relevant customer.

4.5. Fair play statement: The Met Office will continue to price its services fairly to all customers, using a fair market value such that the Met Office can maximise the offset to tax payers through its economic activities.

5. Licence provisions

5.1. In addition to the pricing principles explained above, the prices of Met Office products and services may also be affected by the terms of the licence, in particular the Permitted Uses for the products and services (or Deliverables) granted by the Met Office to the customer. These Permitted Uses include:

  • 5.1.1. Internal Business Use: the use of the Deliverables by the Customer's officers, employees and/or contractors solely in the course of the Customer's day to day internal business administration activities and the day to day running of the Customer's business and organisation and expressly excludes the supply and/or sharing of the Deliverables to and/or with third parties, whether in their original form and/or incorporated into and/or adapted for the Customer's products and/or services.
  • 5.1.2. External Business Use: the supply and/or sharing of the Deliverables to and/or with third parties, whether in their original form and/or incorporated into and/or adapted for the Customer's products and/or services in accordance with the scope which is agreed between the Customer and the Met Office.
  • 5.1.3. Educational and/or Non-Commercial Research Use: use of the Deliverables:
    • 5.1.3.1. in the course of teaching which takes place at a school, college or university;
    • 5.1.3.2. use, by a school, college or university, for the generation of teaching materials;​​​​​​​
    • 5.1.3.3. use, in conjunction with the published results, know-how or outputs arising from Non Commercial Research, for the provision of occasional, un-marketed and nominally remunerated consultancy by a school, college or university.​​​​​​​

5.2. Further information about the implications of licence restrictions on pricing for specific Met Office products and services is available upon request.

6. Funding of research and development activities

​​​​​​​6.1. Funding for research and development (R&D) activities is treated for accounting purposes as revenue for the relevant Met Office programme that receives it.

6.2. Research funding arrangements are priced based upon full cost recovery plus a real charge for the cost of capital and may include an agreed efficiency target. For commercial research arrangements, a reasonable markup may be included to reflect the nature of the service and the requirements of the customer.

7. Competition laws and Subsidy Control

​​​​​​​7.1. The Met Office is committed to achieving full compliance with all applicable competition and antitrust legislation, notably the Competition Act 1998. The Met Office aims to maintain a positive culture of competition law compliance throughout its organisation, including in relation to all pricing decisions.

7.2. Similarly, the Met Office takes all reasonable precautions to ensure that its receipt and administration of public resources is compatible with all applicable subsidy control obligations, including under the Subsidy Control Act 2022. In particular, the Met Office is mindful of need to ensure that the public funding that it receives to deliver the Met Office's public task does not unfairly cross-subsidise its wider economic activities and/or distort competition in any economic markets.

8. Other Legislation and Regulation

8.1. The Met Office operates within all relevant and applicable legislative and regulatory requirements relating to pricing (be they mandatory or self-regulating codes of practice).  These include, but are not restricted to HM Treasury Guidelines, International Financial Reporting Standards and Revenue Recognition rules.

9. Complaints

​​​​​​​9.1. The Met Office is committed to providing a good value service to all our customers. We take all complaints seriously and use the information to improve our service.

9.2. For more information about our complaints procedure, please see: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/legal/complaints-procedure. Please follow this published complaints procedure for all complaints, including matters relating to compliance with the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015.  

​​​​​​​9.3. The Met Office will handle all complaints within a reasonable time. In particular, the Met Office aims to acknowledge complaints received via email, our website or telephone within 24 hours and complaints received via post within 5 days from receipt. The Met Office aims to respond to all complaints within 20 working days of receipt.